Simone Biles and the weight of perfection


Mentally, the past five years have been what she called “a long journey.” When the Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biles curled up in a corner of the gym locker room and cried. She didn’t want to be associated with USA Gymnastics any longer than she needed to.

Cecile Landi – who is her personal trainer in Tokyo – convinced Biles to take time off: go on vacation, find a bigger house, take a hot tub, relax.

The suggestion allowed Biles to savor the larger world around him. She bought a house in Spring, Texas, and made it her own with the help of one of her best friends, Kayla Rivers, who is an interior designer. They set up moodboards with the overall theme being something luxurious and glamorous.

The relaxed and grown-up Biles also got hold of boyfriend Jonathan Owens, an NFL security guard for the Houston Texans. They met when she sent him a direct message on Instagram last summer and have been inseparable. At first he had no idea who she was. He’s still amazed that she’s featured in TV commercials and that the girls scream when they see her in public and ask for a selfie.

In February, she and Owens flew to Belize, where Nellie Biles is from, and vacationed as a couple, jet skiing and swimming with sharks. They sipped cocktails and celebrated their youth and love.

Biles has no idea what she will do after gymnastics. Work out in your gym? Coach in college? She’s excited for her next chapter, but it scares her. Before that, however, she has to perform at the Olympics for the audiences who adore her and the sport that could have destroyed her.

“It’s like, OK, come over here and be done,” Biles said of his career as a gymnast. “You want it to come, but you don’t want it to end either.”

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